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Quo Vadis Chemical Industry? Top Executives Met in London

| Author / Editor: Charles Butcher / Dr. Jörg Kempf

Sustainability vs. carbon dependence — highlight topic at the annual CEFIC meeting in London. From left: Hubert Mandery (Cefic Director General); Dr Kurt Bock (new Cefic president, and BASF Chairman); Georgio Squinzi (Cefic outgoing President, Confindustria President and Chief Executive of the Mapei Group)
Sustainability vs. carbon dependence — highlight topic at the annual CEFIC meeting in London. From left: Hubert Mandery (Cefic Director General); Dr Kurt Bock (new Cefic president, and BASF Chairman); Georgio Squinzi (Cefic outgoing President, Confindustria President and Chief Executive of the Mapei Group) (Pictures: PROCESS)

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The European chemical industry has a better-than-expected public reputation, claims Cefic – but can it really talk of sustainability in a future constrained to carry on using fossil fuels for decades? PROCESS was present at CEFIC’s annual general assembly on September 27-29 in London and reports on the discussion.

A new survey shows that both citizens and politicians in Europe appreciate the chemical industry’s contributions to daily life and prosperity, claims Cefic, the trade body representing chemical manufacturers across the EU: The industry’s “reputation index” scored 56 percent on average across 10 European countries, and 60 percent among people who make or influence EU policy — the “Brussels bubble”.

Talking About My Reputation

“I am reasonably positively surprised,” said Ben van Beurden, Executive Vice President, Shell Chemicals, at a press conference in London in September. “A reputation index above 50 is a good starting point.” The survey carried out by opinion research firm Apco Insight found that across Europe the industry’s reputation with the general public ranged from 51 percent (Italy) to 64 percent (UK).

Regular newspaper readers mostly voted a few percentage points higher, except in France and the Netherlands, where the positions were reversed. In Brussels, the highest ratings came from EU policymakers (MEPs, Commission staff and regulators) and those thought to influence policy, such as NGOs, lobbyists and journalists.

Chemical Industry “Essential to Quality of Life”

The idea that the chemical industry is essential to the quality of life as we know it was well received, van Beurden said, and the industry’s strength in innovation scored well with those in power. But environmental topics such as waste disposal, emissions and the use of natural resources scored worse, he added, though energy efficiency was a strong point. Respondents generally wanted stronger regulation, van Beurden said, but they also appreciated that this could harm jobs and innovation...

Additional Information
 
BASF’s Bock is New Cefic President

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